The year 2019 marked the centenary of the late Es’kia Mphahlele and to celebrate this occasion, Polokwane Municipality hosts a centenary show at the Polokwane Art Museum in Library Gardens that will end on 7 February.
Mphahlele was born on 17 December 1919 in Marabastad, Pretoria and became known as a writer, educationist, artist and activist that is celebrated as the Father of African Humanism and one of the founding members of modern African literature. After leaving the country during the Apartheid era, Mphahlele returned to South Africa in 1977 and settled himself in Lebowakgomo.
The exhibition highlights some parts of Mphahlele’s work and philosophical outlook with works of art by Zakes Mda and Chepape Makgato. In a series of linocuts, Makgato attempts to interpret some moments in pages from Mphahlele’s debut autobiographical work, Down Second Avenue and continues to look into a short story Coffee-cart Girl which introduced him to the work of Mphahlele from high school. Mda’s work depicts an absolute rendition of Mphahlele’s final autobiographical work of Afrika My Music. “Some works pay homage to performance – particularly dance and music – in a manner these art forms function as a healing force in society,” Mda was quoted to have said.
Story and photos: BARRY VILJOEN